Differential roles of the frontal and parietal cortices in the control of saccades

Julia Bender, Kyeong Jin Tark, Benedikt Reuter, Norbert Kathmann, Clayton E. Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although externally as well as internally-guided eye movements allow us to flexibly explore the visual environment, their differential neural mechanisms remain elusive. A better understanding of these neural mechanisms will help us to understand the control of action and to elucidate the nature of cognitive deficits in certain psychiatric populations (e.g. schizophrenia) that show increased latencies in volitional but not visually-guided saccades. Both the superior precentral sulcus (sPCS) and the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) are implicated in the control of eye movements. However, it remains unknown what differential contributions the two areas make to the programming of visually-guided and internally-guided saccades. In this study we tested the hypotheses that sPCS and IPS distinctly encode internally-guided saccades and visually-guided saccades. We scanned subjects with fMRI while they generated visually-guided and internally-guided delayed saccades. We used multi-voxel pattern analysis to test whether patterns of cue related, preparatory and saccade related activation could be used to predict the direction of the planned eye movement. Results indicate that patterns in the human sPCS predicted internally-guided saccades but not visually-guided saccades in all trial periods and patterns in the IPS predicted internally-guided saccades and visually-guided saccades equally well. The results support the hypothesis that the human sPCS and IPS make distinct contributions to the control of volitional eye movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and cognition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Action control
  • FMRI
  • MVPA
  • Saccades
  • Volition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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